L.BOLORMAA: THERE IS NOBODY ELSE BUT JOURNALISTS TO WRITE ABOUT THE WORST THINGS IN SOCIETY
-Question from one journalist to other -
“Ms. Boloroo (editor-in-chief) has recently published a book titled “Busy” authored by her. Have you read it?
-No, not yet read it.
-Well, then you must read it. It really smells like the media kitchen. Since you all belong to the media and press industry, the book is worth reading. There you would find many useful ideas for your work”.
A few days back, this conversation took place between the deputy-editor-chief and journalists in mynewsroom. It aroused my curiosity that I requested someone to bring the book, “Busy” with a somewhat strange title as well as western-like color and cover design solutions, and read it. Right from the first page, the book showed me how the life in a daily newspaper office looks like. It felt oddly familiar and closer to my mind.
Journalistic reform is not something that covers a wide scope and is not unattainable. The real reform, in my view, should be my own attempts to make myself a truly reformed person.
The ‘Busy” makes us to reflect on so many things such as unique characteristics of daily newspapers, the new media management, the world wide web, opportunities to compare our journalists with those from other countries and the insights about the study what the ordinary readers expect from us. We indeed face these issues on everyday basis yet failed to notice. As I read on the book, I wondered thinking that “the author must have spent a great deal of time to create such an amazing work”. Yesterday, I had an opportunity to meet the author for a short while and interview her.
Please read below the talks about the book “Busy” as well as the modern journalism between me and Ms. Luntan Bolormaa, Editor-in-Chief of Mining Journal, the author of the book.
-What is the reason behind the title of your book “Busy”? This title sounds very unique and peculiar.
- When we first started working as journalists, the journalism industry was rather stable. In order words, the journalism industry mainly consisted of daily newspapers. Even tabloid/yellow papers were published in A-2 broadsheet which is actually the format size of normal dailies. Generally speaking, the traditional formats of dailies were preferred in those days and attracted a huge market. My book focuses on events that have started taking place since 2001 which is, let’s say, less than a decade. As we all witness, the society where we are living has rapidly developed for the last ten years. Among such developments, I’d say the development of technology followed by consumers reached the highest level of advancement.
To be exact, viewers, listeners and readers have reached a relatively higher stage of development. As a result, they started accessing information placed on variety of web sites instead of turning pages of dailies printed in normal A-2 broadsheet. In the end, the whole society has become extremely busy. We are in fact one of those who are busy. The reason for me to title the book “Busy” was that every member of our society always says nowadays that he/she is busy. For example, it has become normal for friends to say, ‘Oh, I’m too busy. Let’s chat whenever there is a free time’ when they meet. Reflecting on such occasions plus the latest developments in Mongolia, I realized that for the last decade or so, the society including the media consumers has become astonishingly busy. The real nature of our life has indeed become so busy that I had to title my book as the “Busy”. This is the simple truth. I really did not contemplate for a long time about titling the book with some unique, rare or interesting word in a way like selecting a name for a new born child.
-How much research did you have to do to write the book? While I was reading it I was wondering about effort you put into it and wanted to ask about this.
-I’m not the type of person to allocate special time for such writings like other authors and researchers do. I simply compiled all my previous writings which ended up with success. This is indeed a collection of all the events and happeningsthat my mind and heart still remembers. For example, there is a part about the Press Freedom Law in the book. This part is based on events and other processes that were taking place at that moment when the law was first proposed.
Simply ignore the negative words others say; the time will eventually show which newspaper, journalist or a program/article is the best.
The working group did well. Everybody’s proposal was valued. There were some people including newspaper editor-in-chiefs who played a key and active role in discussions of the draft law. Then I realized that I must write something about all these processes as a legacy of all the events of that time. That’s how the book was written down. Additionally, I included my own ideas about new media management.
-In regard to media management, journalists are increasingly getting targeted for various threats. The threats that do not come from a single member of the society; but coming from those at various strata of the social structure. Some of them say there are excessive number of newspapers and journals while others predict the media extinction is coming closer. What are your views on this?
-Are you asking this question in relation to the media reform?
-These days almost everybody is talking about media reforms. I’d rather tell them not to talk too much if you want to indeed reform the journalism industry. We have a habit of just talking too much and having lots of meetings as far as it concerns reforms. In fact it is much beneficial to do a good work instead of fruitless talks and meetings.
Media reform is not something that covers a wide scope and not unattainable. The real reform, in my view, should be my own attempts to make myself a truly reformed person.
- We, as journalists, must be committed to learning new ideas. We must improve minimum by a step every day. My mind sometimes reminds me that I’m getting outdated. So in order to keep abreast with latest developments, I’m constantly learning. Just like what I’ve just said, the journalists must change themselves. This literally means talk less work more. Similarly, think more talk less. Right now we have every opportunity to access huge amount of information. Journalists often have to work with daily reporting and go out looking for news stories. While doing these tasks, the journalists are expected to analyze all the information that comes across. I do not deny existence of many different newspapers, television networks or websites. They all destined to co-exist without any common model to follow. It is better to simply ignore the things about us others say; the time will eventually show whichnewspaper, journalist or a program/article is the best. Therefore, there is really no need to have meetings and talk nonsense about promotion of media industry’s reforms. Sometimes I’m honestly fed up with all these.
-Are you implying that no need to have so many meetings to reform the media industry; but the journalists should start reforming themselves?
-Exactly. Reform is not something big. For example, now I’m about to work on one news story. In order to make it a worthwhile story, I have to read and study numerous materials which in my view, is my personal contribution to the media industry’s reform. This is the reform, I think.
- But today, other journalists do not have such opportunities. For example, journalists working in dailies have to work in a real prompt and efficient manner.
- There are always opportunities to be really efficient. For example, if a journalist is committed to provide news stories in various topics in a week or within a month, then he can access the internet during night time to collect and read the required information. Knowledge must always be enriched. All possibilities to do so are also available. As for journalists of dailies, they gather in the conference room for daily staff meeting, take tasks from their editor-in-chiefs and go out to collect news and information for the next edition. Even in these situations, I think, it is possible to produce a good quality reporting. As you know, even within a day, good newspaper features, reporting or good news story can be made. It does not mean that one has to collect all the materials and sit down for months to write a good analytical story.
I’m particularly curious about your view on writing of a good quality newspaper piece. From how many sources do you actually get information in order to publish a good piece?
- There is no definite number of sources. I obtain information from sources as many as possible.Sometimes it happens that today’s most valuable news topics no longer popular when the tomorrow comes.
- You’ve just said the journalists must strive to develop themselves. Then, how about the young journalists who join the newsroom staff just after graduation from journalism schools?
- They are usually very good. The young graduates from journalism schools are in fact very well-informed than we are. In addition, their foreign language capability is good. They are good at obtaining variety of information from multiple information sources. Also, they are skilled working in the web environment. I don’t feel they are unfit. Their approach to everything is healthy and they are just like a white sheet of paper. The important thing is that they would become even better staff members if the workplace where they come to work is well organized and managed. Finally, support of editor-in-chiefs is also crucial for them to become even stronger journalists.
A trend to belittle the journalists is becoming common; but there is nobody who can survive for a moment without any news or information.
-Lately, such derogatory words like a paid journalist or corrupted journalist are commonly being used towards journalists. What’s your view on this?
- I don’t feel particularly offended by attacks targeting journalists. At the same time, I also don’t like it when people belittle journalists. You know, for example, when everybody else is having a nice festive time with their family during the Lunar New Yearor the New Year celebrations, we as journalists still have to be at the work front preparing the programs and greet our viewers through the television screen. Nobody really notices this. When people come to office, the first thing they would do is either grab a newspaper or access the internet to get information and read news, don’t they? However, they are not always aware that a team of human beings has prepared them. Generally, a trend to belittle the journalists has become a commonplace; but there is indeed no person who can survive single moment without news and information. Despite this reality, I personally do not understand or accept the use of only negative words when talking about journalists.
For example, there are occasions for me to make factual mistakes while writing news stories. The important lesson to learn from this is not to repeat the same mistake.
-What would you say about the public complaint that newspapers and magazines never publish positive things?
-In fact the whole society is too much depressed. When such things are written by a journalist the public’s perception is that it is about a negative thing. But who else but a journalist would write about such things? This is the only way to correct the wrongs of the society. Again, the most important point here is the journalists must provide the public with works that meet the standards. In reality, journalists always write things that are true today.
-This issue inevitably leads to the issue of journalists’ credibility. Just to mention one example, Mongolians attach high importance to works of foreign journalists and try to read every piece written by them. On the other hand, they treat a Mongolian journalist’s work as a ‘gossip’?
-The work environment for foreign journalists is indeed very good while Mongolian journalists are often unable to obtain information. When journalists go seeking information, any public agency or public official would refuse saying that this or that information is classified. Actually, Mongolian journalists do a much better job than foreign journalists. However, our journalists’ work is extremely undervalued. I don’t think the foreign journalists’ brain function is better than ours.
For example, foreign journalists have written many untrue articles and news stories on the mining sector dispute between the Government of Mongolia and Rio Tinto Company without even approaching the Government for its official comments. In this particular case, our journalists have in fact published accurate information. But foreign journalists had those accurate information mis-translated and informed back to us. Also, if an emergency matter takes place, foreign journalists would immediately sit behind their desks, start their computers, write some briefs and send them to media outlets.
On the other hand, our journalists actually walk to the scene to collect first-hand information. Hence, our journalists must keep writing without paying any attention to negative words uttered by others. If you have written a good piece today, strive to write even better one tomorrow. If you work this way, there would be no person to blame you. Go out a lot. Collect tons of information. And keep going forward with your good work.
-Do you agree with existence of the so-called “Bought journalism” notion?
-Of course, I’m not against agreements of collaboration. However, those agreements must to be disclosed to the public. Even the President appealed for this. If such agreements are disclosed, then nobody would say anything. After all, I am of the opinion that the healthiest members of the society are only the journalists and businessmen.